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Clifford B. Soults, Greg S. Canute and Timothy C. Ryken

Using an evidence-based approach to available clinical studies, the authors examined the role of reoperation in the management of malignant glioma. A review of 1270 Medline-referenced articles spanning the period from 1966 through March 1998 was undertaken using the key words “glioblastoma” and “astrocytoma.” Using an evidence-based four-tiered grading system, the authors found only 14 articles that met their inclusion criteria. Of these, 11 were graded as Class III (retrospective case series) and three as Class II (prospective nonrandomized studies). There were no Class I reports (randomized clinical trials), and all Class IV reports (opinion reports) were excluded. The authors of 10 Class III and one Class II articles supported the role of reoperation in increasing survival time or quality of life in selected patients; however, the results of multivariate analysis in two Class II and one Class III article did not support prolonged survival. The authors conclude that there was insufficient evidence to support either a standard or a guideline for reoperation in malignant glioma given the current status of the literature. Selection bias was a major factor in these studies. With continued interest in clinical trials for recurrent malignant glioma, the role of reoperation needs to be addressed in case-controlled or randomized fashion to establish either standards or guidelines on this commonly debated issue.